“You’re full of creativity when work’s not taking your energy”

I spent a week on holiday at the end of September. The Lake District is very nice. I also did a lot of writing, a lot of which I shared with one or two of my friends. The title of this post is a line one of them said late in the week. And because it’s me and I can’t stop myself, this got me to thinking. But first, context is required.


The Work

I work in an IT service desk. There are 10 of us, assuming all of us are around on any given day. The IT department is about 150, and the userbase is around 12.5 thousand.

As the service desk, we don’t have any other standard tasks, we do nothing but respond to user problems, and are entirely reactive. It can (and does) go from 0 calls in our queue to 10 in less than a minute if something breaks, with no warning. Or we can spend an hour with maybe one call each. Normally though, we take somewhere between 250-300 calls a day. Every day.

At the least, we don’t work weekends, and we can stop work the moment it turns 5pm. We don’t do on call stuff. Which is a substantial part of why I’m still in this role.


The Writing

Those that know me will know that last year, I made what I knew was a terrible mistake, but I did it anyway. 7 weeks later, I’d binged all 99 of the then available episodes of Critical Role campaign 2, and assorted other bits. This was a mistake because I’d been avoiding D&D for years because I knew exactly what would happen.

Anyway, since some time around about last September (it might have been earlier, it’s very hard to pin down the exact genesis of an idea), I’ve been marinating ideas around building a world. A few months ago, I actually started writing them down.


Progress

Things are going relatively well. I have half an adventure written, I’ve decided that making maps is very hard, and spent a couple of weeks procrastinating and making a retired legendary adventuring party, which is literally just an excuse to make level 20 characters and give them any legendary loot that looks cool.

But then I needed to give them at least some basics of a backstory, and I also decided to make myself give short explanations of how each item of Very Rare or rarer came to be in their possession. Which has actually really helped me flesh out the world a bit more, so it was helpful as more than just procrastination. I know a lot more about how tall longbows and shortbows are now. And yes, a 4’8″ elf can absolutely use a 6ft longbow, because I said so.

Side note: That elf may be the most lethal character I’ve ever come up with, even conceptually. They scare me a little. Picture the potential for 12d10 +20 damage a turn, before crits, and you’ll understand what I mean. If you don’t know what any of that means, don’t worry about it.


The Problem

Here’s the issue. I got most of the writing for these characters done in a week where I was sleeping in until near-lunchtime, we were going out in the afternoon, walking and visiting places and so on, while there was moderately interesting TV on, and in the car I was introducing my parents to the Sandman audio drama (it’s really good). Oh, also, I didn’t take a laptop with me, so I was writing all of this on my phone. Which is vastly productive, especially for me.

But then, maybe that’s just how productive I should normally be.

If you read back my description of my work, you’ll notice something. I’m constantly at the mercy of a phone that could ring at any moment, without real warning.

A ringtone is designed to do one very specific thing, which is immediately draw attention to the fact that the phone is ringing and needs your attention NOW. (Then people could set their own ringtones, so you knew who’s phone was ringing, I use Journey of the Sorcerer.) A ringing phone is designed to immediately put you into a stress state, best known as fight or flight. That is the actual working intent of the ringer.

I’ve recently been averaging around about 40 calls a day. Assuming I don’t miss any, that’s 40 times I get put into fight or flight. That I’ve been doing this same job for 8 years doesn’t really change that or make it better, it just increases the baseline stress level.

But wait, there’s more.

Because in-between these calls, in the quiet moments, I could get a call at any moment. So now stress is also generated by the very possibility of the phone ringing, without having any way to know when that will actually be.

You can see the problem.


There’s a reason the service desk has the most transient membership of any team in our department.

I’m not sure if there’s a reason I’ve been doing this 8 years, other than an actually incapacitating fear of writing a job application. Not submitting it, just writing it. I know people have issues with applying for jobs, not sure how many people have issues literally just updating a CV.

This isn’t actually a rant about my work, though it may sound like it. If this was that sort of rant, this post would be likely twice as long, and a lot more offensive. And I am getting better at the whole jobs thing.

I applied for an internal vacancy in the department that I think I would be brilliant at. I think knowing that it would suit me helped, as did my friends and family who read the application before I sent it and helped me improve it. I didn’t get the job, but nobody else did either, and I was told afterwards that I was just what they wanted and they were looking at the best option to lower the entry requirements so they could post the job again.

In an “ideal world”, I’d be able to quit this place and do content creation full time. But that’s extremely difficult for most partnered streamers to accomplish, let alone someone of my relative minuteness.

For now, I have all those little projects I will do when I have more energy. I’ll do them when I have more energy, perhaps because I’ll have a new job.


All pictures in this post were taken by me in the Lake District, and are unedited.

2 comments

  1. have you considered “airplane mode” on your phone or mayhaps using archaic pen & paper? also that is an insane number of daily calls, i understand it’s daunting & absolutely offer myself for you to bludgeon ideas against re: c.v’s, intro blurbs or anything else that i can help with. a grand sorcerer such as yourself could thrive in so many different aspect of your techno-dark-arts & i have every confidence in your ability to find something that pays more to do less (as is the dream). massive thanks for sharing your mind thoughts & the beautiful holiday snaps

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